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LUNIUM
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LUNIUM.zip
Contains LUNIUM/index.html
Competition version (v1.​06), at the IF Archive. Contains playable game and walkthrough.
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LUNIUM

by Ben Jackson profile

Detective, Mystery, Escape room
2023

Web Site

(based on 19 ratings)
8 reviews

About the Story

Can you escape your chains before the killer strikes again?

You wake to find yourself trapped in a room filled with locks and strange contraptions. Someone has locked you in here and identifying them may hold the key to your escape. Hidden somewhere are the clues you need to set yourself free, but time is running out…

Uncover the clues, unlock the chains and solve the mystery!

Features:

• Specially created art including items, locations and notes that help bring this Victorian-era story to life.
• Unique visual puzzles that will challenge your detective skills.
• Includes a helpful hint system.

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LUNIUM was voted:
Outstanding Mystery Game
Outstanding Twine Game
in the 2023 IFDB Awards


Game Details


Awards

7th Place overall; Winner, Rising Star Award - 29th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2023)

Winner, Outstanding Mystery Game of 2023; Winner, Outstanding Twine Game of 2023 - The 2023 IFDB Awards

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Member Reviews

5 star:
(7)
4 star:
(10)
3 star:
(2)
2 star:
(0)
1 star:
(0)
Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 8
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Most Helpful Member Reviews


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
A moody, candlelit escape room, October 9, 2023
by Bell Cyborg (Canada)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2023

This was one of the comp games I was most looking forward to playing. I love a good straightforward escape room--and LUNIUM is a good straightforward escape room, with some truly lovely illustrations of the various set pieces.

While in the midst of investigating a series of bizarre murders, you find yourself chained up in a strange room, apparently by the killer themself. Puzzles progress by manually typing in the keywords of various objects--perhaps to ensure that players inspected them thoroughly? I had a few moments of trouble with guessing the noun for this mechanic, notably (Spoiler - click to show)that to light a match, you don't light a "MATCH" but a "PRESTIGE". That took me a while to realize, even having inspected the matchbox--I thought that you simply couldn't burn the matches. But thankfully there is a robust and forgiving hint system, so I was never really "stuck" on a puzzle. Generally the logic and flow through the room was clear, and I enjoyed the puzzles and how they tied into the room's theme.

The one place where I did want to manually input the name was the (Spoiler - click to show)final puzzle: naming the culprit. The input only being available on the confirmation page made the twist more obvious--but maybe that was the intention?

I had my suspicions about the culprit early on, but was pleasantly surprised by the (Spoiler - click to show)multiple possible decisions regarding what to do about it. That was a nice touch.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
An eminently logical room-escape, December 26, 2023
by Mike Russo (Los Angeles)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2023

(This is a lightly-edited version of a review I posted to the IntFiction forums during 2023's IFComp).

The thing about escape-room inspired games is that you can’t think about them too hard, or they suffer narrative collapse. Like, okay, you’re stuck in a cell of some kind, sure – sometimes there’s a more-or-less-contrived reason the baddie would do that instead of just kill you, sometimes there isn’t, but that’s a sufficiently common genre situation that it’s not too hard to swallow. But instead of one normal lock that keeps you in (and that presumably would have had to be opened to put you there in the first place), there’s a system of like half a dozen different interlocking mechanisms that all need to align? And there just happen to be clues scattered around that make the puzzles solvable, but not too trivially so? There’s no way to rationalize this kind of setup, so instead of being a killjoy clearly you’re supposed to just turn off that part of your brain and enjoy the puzzles.

Major, major points to LUNIUM, then, that I think it basically works? It’s got all the trappings of the genre: you wake up with amnesia, chained to the wall in a room chock-a-block with paintings with mystical symbolism, scraps of paper with numbers and letters scrawled on them, turgidly-written pages of your diary that you can recover piecemeal, and a ticking-clock conceit that requires you to escape before the dawn so that you can stop the killer who trapped you from claiming their next victim. It even adds a layer of complexity by requiring you to deduce the identity of the baddie from a list of suspects to get the best ending, in addition to unlocking the final door so you can escape (I mentioned liking this structure in my Mayor McFreeze and Death on the Stormrider reviews, and I think it works well here too). And yet, when I got to the end and figured out what was going on – it actually all kind of made sense and held together! True, I haven’t gone back and rigorously tested the diegetic plausibility of every single bit of the design, but that’s an unfair standard to inflict on a piece of IF; at least as to the broad strokes, each of these bits of contrived escape-room logic hold up, and in fact things couldn’t have gone any other way!

The elegance here goes beyond the narrative, though. This is one attractive Twine game, with moody illustrations conveying a vibe as well as critical clues if you zoom in to enjoy the artwork, and the interface makes it simple to fiddle with the various safes, locks, and other paraphernalia on display. There are also well-integrated hints (plus straight-up solutions, if you need them), though many players might not need them given the well-judged clueing. There’s a nice range of puzzles here, and if they’re not especially thematic, they’re solidly designed and offer some good variety, so no particular approach overstays its welcome: there are of course a number of code-deciphering puzzles, but some are exercises in pure logic, others rely on deductive reasoning that lend a mystery-solving vibe to proceedings, and a few require a bit of lateral thinking, which lead to some satisfying aha moments while still being eminently fair. I’m not the best escape-room puzzler-solver in the world, but I only needed to go to the hints twice: once when the small screen of my phone meant I couldn’t make out an important clue (though I should say that unlike many graphically-rich Twine games, LUNIUM generally works a treat on mobile), and a second time when I’d mixed up two character’s names and therefore didn’t realize I’d already gotten the solution to the puzzle, I was just implementing the solution wrong.

As for the plot, I don’t want to say too much lest I spoil the fun reveal I alluded to above. As is typical for escape rooms, there isn’t much in ongoing narrative, but there is some backstory to discover, and this is parceled out judiciously in between bouts of puzzle-solving. As a Victorian detective, you’re on the trail of a serial killer, and while the outline is quite generic, there’s enough detail given about your previous investigations of the key suspects to give them at least a whiff of personality. There are also some specific themes that keep recurring, like an omnipresent moon motif to go along with the game’s title. As a result it’s enjoyable to read the various document-facsimiles provided, even when you’re largely skimming them looking for clues to the puzzles. This is helpful because it’s this non-puzzle-relevant information that provides the prompts needed to guess the identity of the killer, and while I got to the end with only a tentative guess at whodunnit, the ending prompts pushing me to make my accusation provided another subtle hint or two that let me feel very clever for ultimately fingering the right suspect.

LUNIUM isn’t perfect – I noticed one small bug, where I got some text mentioning the contents of my pockets after I freed myself from the wall despite not having had a chance to look in them yet. But that’s an incredibly minor issue, and I honestly am having trouble dredging up any additional constructive criticism (the writing could be a little more authentically Victorian, I guess? Really though it’s just fine for the purpose it serves). This is an assured game, playable and narratively satisfying in a way I didn’t think I was even allowed to hope an escape room game could be. So I guess that’s my other criticism: it may have spoiled me for other games in the subgenre by making it harder for me to look past it when they don’t make any sense!

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Keys and cuffs., December 4, 2023
by Rovarsson (Belgium)

(Review based on the IFComp version of the game.)

Without reading the blurb, I had expectations of a SF or fantasy work in which Lunium could be the setting’s rare unobtainium used for magical potions or as fuel for FTL-travel. Perhaps it would be mined on a distant moon of an uninhabited planet, or it could only be activated when mixed with dewdrops under the light of the moon.

Not so. Lunium is a combination detective mystery/escape room game. You wake up in a securely locked room, chained to the wall. Your memories are vague and confused, your vision blurred. You must have been drugged…
No points for originality, but it is a solid opening, a staple of IF.

You do remember, aided by the first few objects you find, that you are a detective on the verge of solving a series of horrible murders. Now you must get out and stop the murderer.

Searching the surroundings yields keys and combinations. Unlocking drawers and safes yields clues. Investigating, analysing, combining those clues yields information about witnesses and suspects. This information can then be used to start the cycle anew.

As with a lot of escape games, the puzzles felt forced. It strains the suspension of disbelief that everything you need to escape the room and solve the crime just happens to be lying around (more or less hidden/locked away) in the very location where you’re imprisoned. In this case though, this is justified in the (rather transparent) twist ending. Still, the ending cannot negate the impression of “Oh! How convenient. I’m finding keys all around.” that I had during the game.

Many puzzles do share a common theme (hinted at in the title) that ties them together and gives a nice sense of consistency. (Except (Spoiler - click to show)the colours on the back of the painting associated with the coins in your pocket. Come on, really?)

The character sketches of the suspects/witnesses were intruiging, but too fragmentary to hold my interest in the end. I would have liked more exposition on the relationships between them, and of the circumstances in which my PC came to interrogate or investigate them. Perhaps in some more elaborate flashbacks?

Lunium is aesthetically pleasing, with beautiful and detailed pictures of the room and the details within it. The option to view and enlarge the items in the inventory is well handled and very player-friendly.

A pretty and puzzly Twine to keep your grey cells pleasantly occupied for about an hour.

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See All 8 Member Reviews

LUNIUM on IFDB

Polls

The following polls include votes for LUNIUM:

Outstanding Twine Game of 2023 by MathBrush
This poll is part of the 2023 IFDB Awards. The rules for the competition can be found here, and a list of all categories can be found here. This award is for the best Twine game of 2023. Voting is open to all IFDB members. Eligible games...

Outstanding Mystery Game of 2023 by MathBrush
This poll is part of the 2023 IFDB Awards. The rules for the competition can be found here, and a list of all categories can be found here. This award is for the best mystery game of 2023. Voting is open to all IFDB members. Suggested...

Author's Choice for Best Game of 2023 by MathBrush
This poll is part of the 2023 IFDB Awards. The rules for the competition can be found here, and a list of all categories can be found here. This award is for the best overall game of 2023. Unlike all other polls in the IFDB Awards, this...

See all polls with votes for this game




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